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Nanoha Magicool Sound Effects CS >9000!

June 17, 2012

“Don’t give up on life!”

Kanade Amo, Symphogear: Swan Song of the Valkyries

Usually I only talk about shows that actually have giant robots, but Symphogear is pretty close in that it tries to be one of them. Or I don’t know, I thought it was alot like Nanoha as well. Then there’s the background noise that is whatever passes for intrigue within the show that’s similar to the Eagle-land hating that occasionally pops up in Eastern media…

The premise of Symphogear is the appearance of monsters called Noise in the world (alot more fluffy-looking than the monsters of the same name in Battle Fantasia Rulilura, that’s for sure), and their actions terrorize humanity by turning all living humans that they touch into carbon. They’re also annoyingly resistant to conventional weaponry to the point of missiles and bullets phasing through them without any effect, and you can image this does pose the problem of having to stall for time during an evacuation procedure.

The Noise can only be combated by people wearing special, ancient, and of course near-magical armor known as Symphogear; Kanade Amo and Tsubasa Kazanari are two such valkyries, with their day job being the singing duo Zwei Wing. Backed by the 2nd Div. Disaster Response Team, which is also in charge of all things Noise-related in Japan, the two’s breakthrough concert in Japan are interrupted by a Noise attack, who proceed to do away with alot of fans and wreck the stadium.

Mid-way through a mass massacre of Noise by Kanade and Tsubasa, too-stunned-for-action Hibiki Tachibana, an attendee at the concert, is hit bydebris flying at railgun speed from the fights going around and mortally wounded. To clear the area faster (presumably to let paramedics in earlier), Kanade sings her swan song, a devastatingly powerful attack that offs all the Noise, and later, her as well, much to a distraught Tsubasa.

Hibiki survives the encounter changed, but apparently not changed enough to avoid being a semi-dud in music class. Kanade has left an impression on her, however, because when the Noise attack again, she gets determined enough to transform into a Symphogear user-using the fragments of Kanade’s Symphogear, Gungnir, that were embedded in her since the incident, in order to fight the Noise.

Lasting impressions of Symphogear is that the directors couldn’t seem to decide whether they wanted the audience to call the glass half-full or half-empty. Many of Symphogear’s fight scenes are well-animated as per a high-budget OVA style, but the backstory expansion of the world of Symphogear itself is near-atrocious; you have political strife within the Japanese parliament, US espionage, guerilla groups from across the world, and even the United Nations being mentioned, but those are more like random hallucinatory leaks from OUR world into the speech pattern of the people in the anime rather than being part of the story. The show also demands a basic understanding of Sumerian/Egyptian legends and history, because according to the show, the villain(s)’ plot could be best summed up as “butthurt Egyptian priestess wants to get in God’s pants.”

Other than that, new viewers thinking of Symphogear as run-off-the-mill moemoe show will be moderately surprised. Symphogear is serious when it comes to character development; there might be some friendship cliches played straight, but the show seldom half-asses interaction between character; there’re alot of defining moments for both the main and support cast as they have to struggle to come to terms with new ways of fighting, new ways of dealing with people, and ways to get around their own emotional baggages.

Fanservice, unlike its elder and closest contemporary, is either, in personal opinion, very basic, or else very random and out-of-place with what’s going on on the screen. Action is decent, an added bonus for those afraid that it might be CG since it’s all hand-animated, and there’s very little QUALITY going on, if at all; the early fights are some of the best parts of the show and some of the scenes have moments with powerful impact. Character expression is also mid-to-top level, and unless you’re a cold hard fag you are definitely going to get some feelings flowing in you when the shit hits the fan (or when the episode ends without shit hitting the fan).

The blood, as an example of how sometimes the show just flipping logic the bird and taking refugee in audacity is NOT good, is something that will either make you cringe, laugh, or wonder if the show’s serious or not, but then again Symphogear was never a realistic premise to begin with (I mean, they pretty much belt out hit singles while offing Noise like someone just loosed the whole cast of Marvel VS Capcom on the show). Other than that, like any 13-episode show Symphogear will keep you entertained to the end, but if you end up hungering for more, you done and gone fucked because it’s not even a light novel adaptation; there’s only one Symphogear out there and it’s the TV series.

Sure, there’s one Symphogear user that’s practically Ms. Gendums+Nirvash and another that’s a rather awkward subversion of the usual “female sword user = cool, collected and in control”; not to mention every Symphogear sounds like a relative of Mach Caliber during activation. This can either be pros or cons depending on how anal you are about trifles like homages, but you won’t be able to deny the most badass male supporting cast this side of the decade that is Akuma’s NEET relative, or Kira Yamato as a normal human putting up a valiant defense (and actually being proficient with a gun, derp.)

In short, the show is trying to be Nanoha, Muv-Luv Alternative and Evangelion rolled together and given a happy ending; sometimes it works, sometimes it falls behind and becomes too campy and cringe-worthy, but it manages to catch up always and doesn’t fail to deliver. Don’t go into it expecting a nigh-impossible masterpiece, and Symphogear might just synch with your taste.

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